Today’s Sportstat: June 22, 2020

How will the new Brewers players’ debuts match up with other Brew Crew debuts?

When (or if) the 2020 Major League Baseball season begins, the Brewers will have several new players who have never suited up in a Brewers uniform who will likely play important roles for the club. Players like outfielder Avisail Garcia, catcher Omar Narvaez, infielders Justin Smoak and Luis Urias, and pitchers Brett Anderson, Eric Lauer and Josh Lindblom will be making their debut with the Brewers in 2020 (hopefully).

The question: When they do make their debuts, will they start with a bang or a whimper? When compared to other Brewers, will any of these new players have a Brew Crew debut like Carlos Gomez? After coming to the Brewers in a trade with the Twins, Gomez made his Brewers debut on April 5, 2010 with four hits in five at-bats, a solo HR and a stolen base.

Or will any of the pitchers have a debut like Yovani Gallardo? Making his MLB and Brewers debut on June 18, 2007, Gallardo was the starting pitcher and winner in the Brewers 5-4 win over the San Francisco Giants. Gallardo went 6.1 innings and allowed only four hits and struck out four in the victory.

Let’s take a look at some of the Brewers debuts for some of the club’s top players over the years. Baseball-Reference.com on the Brewers’ team page lists the team’s Top 24 players in franchise history based on each players’ WAR rating (WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement). The stat gives a number to each players’ overall contribution to the team. Robin Yount tops the Brewers franchise with a 77.3 WAR, followed by Paul Molitor (60.0) and Ryan Braun is third (46.8).

Here is a snapshot of the top 24 Brewers player’s debut with the team.

 

Robin Yount, April 5, 1974: 0-for-1, walk

Paul Molitor, April 7, 1978: 1-for-5, one RBI

Ryan Braun, May 25, 2007: 1-for-4, two RBIs

Cecil Cooper, April 7, 1977: 1-for-4

Teddy Higuera, April 23, 1985: 5.1 IP, seven hits, 4 ER, five strikeouts (no decision-starting pitcher)

Don Money, April 6, 1973: 0-for-3

Jeff Cirillo, May 11, 1994: 0-for-0, came in as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, no at-bat

Ben Sheets, April 5, 2001: 6.0 IP, six hits, 5 ER, five strikeouts (starting pitcher, losing pitcher)

George Scott, April 15, 1972: 0-for-4, one RBI

Jim Gantner, September 3, 1976: 2-for-4, one run scored, one walk

Geoff Jenkins, April 24, 1998: 2-for-4, solo HR, two runs scored

Ben Oglivie, April 8, 1978: 2-for-5, two runs scored, one walk

Carlos Gomez, April 5, 2010: 4-for-5, double, solo HR, two runs scored, stolen base

Sixto Lezcano, September 10, 1974: 3-for-5, one RBI

Chris Bosio, August 3, 1986: 3.0 IP, three hits, one earned run, one strikeout (came in as a reliever, no decision)

Gorman Thomas, April 6, 1973: 1-for-3, triple

Yovani Gallardo, June 18, 2007: 6.1 IP, four hits, 3 ER, 4 strikeouts (Starting pitcher, got the win)

Bill Wegman, September 14, 1985: 7.0 IP, five hits, two earned runs, four strikeouts (starting pitcher, no decision)

Mike Caldwell, June 19, 1977: 2 IP, no hits, one walk, one strikeout (came in as a reliever, no decision)

Jonathan Lucroy, May 21, 2010: 1-for-2

Prince Fielder, June 13, 2005: 0-for-4

Jeromy Burnitz, September 3, 1996: 0-for-4

Moose Haas, September 8, 1976: 3 IP, three hits, one earned run, two strikeouts (came in as a reliever, no decision)

Corey Hart, May 25, 2004: 0-for-1, strikeout

In addition to the above 24 players, the Brewers have five more players who played with the team who are members of baseball’s Hall of Fame (in addition to Yount and Molitor): Rollie Fingers, Hank Aaron, Ted Simmons, Trevor Hoffman and Don Sutton. Their Brewers debuts went as follows:

Rollie Fingers, April 11, 1981: 1.2 IP, two hits, no earned runs, one strikeout, one walk (came in as a reliever, got the save)

Hank Aaron, April 8, 1975: 0-for-3, walk

Ted Simmons, April 11, 1981: 0-for-4, one run scored, one strikeout

Trevor Hoffman, April 27, 2009: one inning pitched, no hits, no earned runs (came in as a reliever, no decision)

Don Sutton, 9 IP, complete game, eight hits allowed, four earned runs, two walks, three strikeouts (starting pitcher, got the loss)

 

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Lack of home court advantage may be a key factor in crowning the 2019-20 NBA champ

With the NBA looking to conclude their interrupted 2019-20 season with 22 of the 30 teams finishing the season in games only in Orlando, teams that depend on home court advantage will be without benefit of a home crowd as the season plays out. And one team that may not like this fact is the Milwaukee Bucks.

Based on home court records starting with the 2018-19 season and ending with the delay instituted earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bucks had a league-leading .847 winning percentage in home games over that period… 61 wins and 11 losses on their home court. Eleven NBA teams since the start of the 2018-19 season have won 2/3 or more of their home games.

With no crowds and no home court advantage, will this be a negative for some teams? We’ll have to see how this plays out since we don’t have any history of such a large sample of neutral court games in league history. But this we know for sure: None of the 22 teams finishing out this season will benefit from a home crowd. Will this make for a more level playing field (court) as the season winds down and eventually crowns a champion in 2020? Stay tuned.

Here is the winning percentage of each of the 30 NBA teams in home games since the beginning of the 2018-19 season through contests played in 2019-20.

Milwaukee, .847… Philadelphia, .833

Denver, .797… Toronto, .753… Houston, .726

Boston, .699… L.A. Clippers,.699… Utah, .694… Indiana, .685… Portland, .685… San Antonio, .676… Oklahoma City, .635… Miami, .630… L.A. Lakers, .625

Dallas, .573… Orlando, .569… Brooklyn, .562… Sacramento, .528… Memphis, .527… Washington, .521… Golden State, .507… Detroit, .500

Charlotte, .486… Minnesota, .452… New Orleans, .438… Atlanta, .413

Phoenix, .329… Cleveland, .312… Chicago, .307

New York, .270

 

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Today’s Sportstat: May 5, 2020

Ryan Braun was the Brewers #1 player in the 2010s… who do you have at #2?

If we go based on the numbers, there should not be much discussion about who was the Brewers top player last decade, 2010-19. The obvious answer is Ryan Braun.

Throughout the 2010s, Braun led the Brewers in almost every batting statistic. But after Braun, who would you pick as the second best player for the Brewers last decade. In my mind, and based on strictly the numbers, there are probably three candidates for the Number Two spot.

Some of you might pick Christian Yelich as the top player for the Brewers in the last 10 years. There’s no doubt that what he has accomplished with the Brew Crew over the last two seasons in Milwaukee is remarkable. But we’re taking about the total of 10 years, 2010-19. While Yelich has an MVP and a runner-up honor for that same award in two seasons, he does not have the numbers totals to make a dent in the Brewers players with the highest offensive stats over the past 10 years.

Let’s start with offensive totals. Here’s a look at the two players who topped the Brewers in several offensive categories from 2010-19.

Most at-bats: Braun, 4796… Jonathan Lucroy, 2838

Most runs: Braun, 770… Carlos Gomez, 364

Most hits: Braun, 1410… Lucroy, 806

Most doubles: Braun, 297… Lucroy, 157

Most triples: Braun, 29… Gomez, 25

Most home runs: Braun, 241… Rickie Weeks, 88 (how many of you thought Weeks had the second most homers for the Brewers from 2010-19?)

Most runs batted in: Braun, 811… Lucroy, 387

Most stolen bases: Braun, 166… Gomez, 152

Highest batting average (min. 300 games played): Braun, .294… Nori Aoki, .287

Highest on-base percentage (min. 300 games played): Prince Fielder, .408… Braun, .359

Highest slugging percentage (min. 300 games played): Braun, .519… Fielder, .518

I would put either Lucroy or Gomez as candidates for the second best player for the Brewers last decade behind Braun of the everyday players.

Now let’s look at the pitching stats for 2010-19.

Most games pitched: Jeremy Jeffress, 301… Francisco Rodriguez, 263

Most complete games: Kyle Lohse, 4… Yovani Gallardo, 3

Most wins: Gallardo, 67… Wily Peralta, 47

Most saves: John Axford, 105… Rodriguez, 95

Most innings pitched: Gallardo, 969.1… W. Peralta, 704.2

Most strikeouts: Gallardo, 901… Jimmy Nelson, 578

ERA (minimum 200 innings pitched: Josh Hader, 2.42… Jeffress, 2.66

My third candidate for the #2 spot would be Gallardo. Much like Yelich, you could make a case for a pitcher like Josh Hader, but his numbers are limited to only three seasons in Milwaukee last decade.

So who would you choose as the second-best player for the Brewers last decade?

 

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Today’s Sportstat: May 18, 2020

Opening Day starters for the Brewers

Opening Day for baseball in 2020 is still a mystery. That shouldn’t, however, stop us from looking at some previous Opening Day lineups for the Brewers.

First, did you know that the last time the Brewers had the same player start at first base on Opening Day was all the way back in 2010 and 2011? Prince Fielder was the Opening Day first baseman in those two years for the Brewers; since then, the same player has not started at first in consecutive years.

(In case you were wondering, here are the Opening Day starters at first base for the Brewers since Fielder started at that position in 2010 and 2011: 2012-Mat Gamel, 2013-Alex Gonzalez, 2014-Lyle Overbay, 2015-Adam Lind, 2016-Chris Carter, 2017-Eric Thames, 2018-Ryan Braun, 2019-Jesus Aguilar.)

Here’s a breakdown for the last time a player started on Opening Day at the same position in consecutive seasons for the Brew Crew.

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy, 2014-15
First Base: Prince Fielder, 2010-11
Second Base: Jonathan Villar, 2017-18
Shortstop: Orlando Arcia, 2018-19
Third Base: Travis Shaw, 2018-19
Left Field: Ryan Braun, 2016-17
Center Field: Lorenzo Cain, 2018-19
Right Field: Domingo Santana, 2017-18
Pitcher: Yovani Gallardo, 2013-14

Secondly, did you know that Jim Gantner has the most Opening Day starts at one position for the Brewers? Gantner was the Opening Day second baseman in 11 seasons. Second on the list is Robin Yount who had 10 Opening Day starts for the Brewers at shortstop. Yount tops the club with the most Opening Days starts at any position with 19 (he made 10 Opening Day starts at shortstop, eight in center field, and one in left field). In his 20-year career, the only year he did not make an Opening Day start for the Brewers was in 1978.

Here are the players with the most Opening Day starts at each position in Brewers history.

Catcher: Jonathan Lucroy and B.J. Surhoff, 5 each
First Base: Cecil Cooper, 9
Second Base: Jim Gantner, 11
Shortstop: Robin Yount, 10
Third Base: Don Money, 7
Left Field: Ryan Braun, 9
Center Field: Robin Yount, 8
Right Field; Sixto Lezcano and Jeromy Burnitz, 5 each
Designated Hitter: Paul Molitor, 4
Starting Pitcher: Ben Sheets, 6

 

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Today’s Sportstat: May 17, 2020

Did playing against Michael Jordan motivate Dominique Wilkins to greatness?

 

Dominique Wilkins is a Hall of Famer, selected in 2006. He averaged 24.8 points per game and was a nine-time All-Star. Based on researching some numbers from his career, he may been one player who when he played against Michael Jordan and the Bulls, really elevated his game when facing basketball’s GOAT.

Jordan played for the Bulls from 1984-95 to 1992-92, and then rejoined the team at the end of the 1994-95 season and retired from the Bulls at the end of the 1997-98 season. During those Jordan-Bulls years, there were 24 times (by 16 different players) when an opposing player tallied 40 or more points in a game versus Jordan’s Bulls. Of those 24 times, Wilkins scored 40+ points against the Bulls five times, most of any rival player.

Here are the players who scored 40 or more points in a regular season game versus the Bulls during the years Jordan played with the team.

Dominique Wilkins, 5 times

Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Bernard King and Reggie Miller, each twice

Adrian Dantley, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Darrell Griffith, Allen Iverson, Jeff Malone, Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Glenn Robinson, Rony Seikaly, Kelly Tripucka, one time each

Wilkins tops the list with the most points scored by a player in a game versus the Bulls with Jordan on the roster. Wilkins scored 57 points in a December 10, 1986 game. Adrian Dantley is second on that list with a 45-point game against the Jordan-led Bulls.

From the 1984-85 season to the 1997-98 season, Wilkins tops the list for most total points scored against the Bulls with 1,492, a 28.7 per game average, also tops on the list. Patrick Ewing was second with 1,154 total points, followed by Isiah Thomas with 1,070 points and Charles Barkley with 1,065 points.

If we look at which opposing players had the most 30-point games versus the Bulls from 1984-85 to 1997-98, again Wilkins tops the list with 23 such games. Barkley and Larry Bird follow Wilkins with 13 games and Ewing had 10.

Only one other opposing player had a 50-point game in a contest with Jordan playing. Kobe Bryant had 55 in a March 28, 2003 game between the L.A. Lakers and Washington Wizards. Jordan was a member of the Wizards and tallied 23 points in that game. Orlando’s Tracy McGrady had 50 points in a March 8, 2002 game against the Wizards, but Jordan did not play in that game due to an injury.

The numbers seem pretty clear… Dominique Wilkins seemed to raise his game to another level when he was on the same court as Jordan. For his career, Wilkins averaged 27 points versus the Bulls in 66 total games, second-most versus any team (he averaged 27.2 points per game against the Kings in 27 contests).

 

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